The independent report, written under the authority of NAAEC Article 13, was initiated in 2012 in response to concerns that a surge in spent lead-acid battery (SLAB) exports to Mexico in recent years was an effort to avoid the costs of stricter environmental and health protection laws prevalent in the United States. Lead is a persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substance and how lead-acid batteries are recycled is an important economic, public health and environmental issue. A draft of the report had been made available by the Secretariat for public comments and benefited as well from the input of key stakeholders.
Key findings of the report include:
- Between 2004 and 2011, US net exports of SLABs to Mexico increased by 449–525 percent, and 221 per cent to Canada.
- The regulatory frameworks covering secondary lead smelters in the United States, Canada and Mexico do not provide equivalent levels of environmental and health protection.
- National cross-border accounts in all three countries do not accord with shipping or receiving volumes of SLABs from either sending or receiving countries.
- Notwithstanding Mexico’s permitting process, there are important gaps in its overall regulatory framework, as well as with respect to the prevailing environmental and public health standards in the United States and Canada.
The report also presents various recommendations to environmental authorities in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, that will enhance the protection of our shared environment, and the health of workers and communities.
Pursuant to Article 13 (3) of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, the Council will normally make the final report publicly available within 60 days of the submission, unless the Council decides otherwise.